Sunday, August 22, 2010

How many Exchange Students does it take to build a house?

Only 3, plus some Rotarians and volunteers!
That is exactly what I did on my first Saturday In Chile. I got dropped off at my counselors house and meet the other exchange student who is hosted by my club, Hannah from the US. We then drove out to Talagente to work on a Rotary project, rebuilding a house that was destroyed by the earthquake. There we met up with another exchange student, Connor also from the US, and Cristobal once again. At first we really didn't do to much, especially for the girls... to much machismo. But eventually we got into it because I don't like watching other people work, I want to be in on the action and do something! The day was full of fun, good-will, bromas (jokes), and the other exchange students trying to teach me some Spanish. I think I understand the concepts and how to use the Chileno words of "cachai" and "po" now! But all in all it was a great day and I'm starting to understand why everyone says that the best memories are when you spend time with the other exchange students.

The other day I went downtown Santiago to get my visa registered by the police so that I can get my Chilean identity card. On the way we met a nice girl who has been studying law in the US and she was trying to go to the same place. On the way she was explaining to me how there are so many Peruvians in Chile and how the Chileans don't like them. It sounded like they were calling them "Piranhas" and I had to laugh, it sounded so mean! After the police we took the metro back to our metro station then headed to another comuna "La Reina" to get my card. Ended up, we couldn't get it. The police typed my name wrong on the sheet they gave me, they left out one of my middle names. I've been having a lot of trouble with forms and such as people can't seem to understand I have two middle names, it doesn't matter if its my mom's last name. So we'll be doing the whole thing again tomorrow, and since I also don't have my uniform yet I have to wait until Tuesday now to start school.

For lunch, which is the largest meal of the day, I had my first empanada! Empanada's are bread pastry filled with meat, egg, olives, cheese and other things that make them delicious! I went with my host-dad and waited in line to get them... and they were worth it!

Today I went to a really Americanized mall, it was kinda weird because it felt like I was back in North America with all the "gringos" like Burger King, Subway, and other food places. Plus, we found a clothing store called "Canadienne" filled with heavy coats and sweaters, because that's all that we wear up in the great white north. I also found out that not only the Chileans call white foreigners gringos but it refers to anyone not from their country, so Brazilian, Colombian, whoever.

Things that I notice:
Driving is crazy - loco!
I know every exchange student to Chile says this but it's true! So what there's a speed bump or red stoplight a few hundred meters in front of you, let's still go full speed then stop right before we have to! Roundabouts are like a free-for all, if the pedestrian light is flashing either stop before someone runs you over or run for your life, lots of cars are scratched, I swear a bus was almost going to hit my car and my host-mom didn't even flinch and I was freaking out inside, just overall everything I learned in drivers training is pretty much not enforced.

The Chileans love pop. Especially coke, and it's really cheap like $1.70 for 2 L. Also they have some weird sizes, why would you want 1 L when you can have 1.5 L, or why a regular 2 L when you can have 2.5 L or even a big ol' 3 L. I guess options is a good thing to have! Children also drink quite a bit of pop, even really young ones.

"V"'s sound like "B"'s and I think I repeated "veinte" (twenty) at least 30x with my host-dad to get the pronunciation correct, but I still sound "American", I can't help it!

Stray dogs outnumber homeless people. It's really quite sad, I'm such a dog person and here there are so many stray dogs I just want to pet them all but you wouldn't dare.

The way in which you greet someone by kissing them on the cheek is so much better than the cold-handshake or awkward hello. I might have to bring this back to Canada, it seriously puts everyone on the same level because you kiss them if you know the person, have never met them, or if they are a authority figure.

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